“Have we fully understood that the respect for oneself is never gained by the contempt for others?” Joseph Monod
Finally stopped raining after Christmas and beautiful on morning of Boxing Day. Very rude awakening by alarm clock at 6 am. I do not do alarm clocks as usually up by that time anyway. But this is our one scheduled event in our entire New Zealand trip, so do not want to miss the boat.
Arrived at assigned location but could not figure out how to pay for long term parking so went and parked on street. Made the boat by 9 and a great trip down Marlborough sound to ship cove. What is not to like about a boat trip, even if the speakers explaining whatever, were bad. But saw some king shags enroute, these shags residing only around here and only about 400 left. Fun trying to identify seabirds but pretty bad at it without someone to direct.
But arrived at ship cove where captain cook and the endeavour spent time, and the endeavour replica spent time here.
Then we hiked uphill and a bit of mud remaining from Christmas rains. But all good and sunshine. Wonderful forest of tree ferns, native beech, Kamari, and the giant rimu.
Made around resolution bay and into endeavour inlet looking for our lodge. Had once again no idea what we were into. We wanted a track in New Zealand because I guess that is what one does. There are 10 official great tracks, but when we were looking in August very difficult to arrange. As most were fully booked, crowded and require permits reservations, etc years ahead. But Marlborough sound also fit the bill and we found a guide service. We chose independent travel, but they make the arrangements (boats, water taxis, lodging, carry our gear between lodges, and provide lunch every day.) beyond that we had no idea although eventually I checked the route and needed equipment. Our route followed a ridge between Queen Charlotte sound and Kenepuru sound.
But our first day we began to ponder lodging. Bunk beds, a backpackers hostel, ???? There were about 10 of us signed up for trek. Kids, families a variety mostly from Europe and a couple from Australia.
The guide service gave us a briefing before departure put us on boat and said have a good time. “call if you need us” we could buy breakfast and dinners at the lodge.
We arrived about 3 pm at Furneaux lodge, 20 meters off trail, and it was very nice. Big porch large yard, but reception attendant was away so we went to bar for a needed beer.
Our lodging was cabin number 6 with 4 rooms a kitchen, deck and wondrously luxurious. I could live with it. Dinner we scheduled for 7:30. Our bags were waiting in our room.
Day 2 was an dry one with very little elevation gain walking the edge of endeavour bay and big bay. Supposedly 12 kilometer. As most places in the world the land goes right down to the water where tide goes in and out so this route cannot continuously go along a beach, but this day a short bit inland. Again awesome forest.
Departed late about 10 lounging in the luxury. We knew in August reservations had been difficult and some friends had said punga lodge was wonderful, but it was booked solid so we were 500 meters farther down the trail, which had been washed out in rains. Again were we to be in some bunkhouse with cans of beans for dinner and breakfast. We had to go through the lawn area of punga lodge and people are out lounging on bean bags soaking up sunshine. Jealous, Jeanne wanted to stop for a beer, I wanted to get to our lodge, stop for the day and put down my 3 kg day pack.
We managed through the track arriving at Mahana and walked to reception. A delightful character introduced himself as Dave and said he would take care of registration later after we sat and had a cold one first.
eventually David took us to the lodge and showed us our room the captain cook suite.
again our bags were sitting in our room.
Then off to the beach. Jeanne discovered the kayaks and was in heaven. I said I wanted a picture but she was gone delightfully paddling along. I went for a swim. We laid out a bit and reflected on our good fortune.
Dinner was at 6:30 and served family style. David was the cook while the French couple Ben and millie served us. There we 10 of us and a delightful 2 1/2 hour 4 course meal. Salad picked from garden that day, whitefish (a New Zealand fish) and lamb. A bit of effort but managed to stay up until dark at 9 pm for a walk to view the glow worms. Again awesome. Would have a picture but all it would show is a cutback next to a stream. But in the dark it was a veritable city of lights.
Then day 3 the supposed “big day”. 23 kilometers and we were on the trail before recommended 8 am again climbing to high spot on trail of 475 meters descending again and climbing again. Wondrous views but the day drug on. Whose idea was this anyway? What made us think a couple of old farts could do this. By the end of day we were beat. I have done longer but this one got me. Why was this doing me in.
Ok my theory goes along with the Big Bang theory and an expanding universe. When I was about 22 years old (which I cannot figure out how long ago that was) I did a 30 mile hike (about 50 kilometer). Now a 25 kilometer is kicking my butt. The only explanation I can come up with is an expanding universe. As the universe expands relative distances will stay the same- that is a kilometer is still a kilometer as it is relative to everything around it which has also expanded. Hence the 30 miles I did some 48 years ago was actually much shorter than the 25 kilometers which was killing me. Any astronomy nerds out there could use this I am sure to measure time and the expansion of the universe. I explained this to Jeanne and she rolled her eyes. Ok you try and live inside my head and come up with an explanation for being tired.
Made it to portage lodge, barely able to descend the last kilometer of paved road and the gruesome 6 step entry to lodge. The printed guide gives distances on trail not the kilometer distance for lodge off trail. We had done it in 9 hours which actually felt ok as stated time was 8 hours plus breaks. We arrived at 5.
Jeanne got the beers and I dealt with Tee who was the most pleasant receptionist I think I have ever met. She was dealing with some folks who were having Expedia problems. Never go with a third party booking. She dealt with them and checked us in. We hobbled to room and a delightful shower. Wanted to go to beach but alas legs declined the opportunity. We made it to a wondrous seafood and lamb barbecue dinner, after which we managed the 50 meters to beach, then room and sleep. The next day was an allotted 21 kilometer to the finish at Anakiwa and scheduled water taxi at 3:30.
gone by 8 worried about making water taxi at 3:30 thinking of day before. But somehow overnight we had gotten in shape and cruised along through delightful forests, accompanied by sounds of bell birds, numerous other unidentified birds and crickets. Views out over Marlborough sound and people boating all over
Made Anakiwa by 2 an hour shorter than stated time and felt great. Went for a swim and made the 30 minute boat ride back to Picton.
A delightful dinner in town joined by a couple who had immigrated here from South Africa 15 years ago. A wondrous time
A few thoughts on New Zealand. A good feeling to have the indigenous people maori part of culture. Most information signs are in both English and local language and history includes the locals. Definitely the mauri had to fight to maintain their rights as original inhabitants, but they were accepted. Not the usual, you are not doing what we think should be done with the land, so we are taking it.
And no tipping in New Zealand. A welcome relief. A friend from australia told me it is management job to provide a living decent wage to workers, not the customer. What a concept.
and interesting the attempts to stop invasive. Here on this track it is the pine tree which they poison and cut down. Invasive are a problem here as little defense. Birds are friendly coming right up to you. Interesting
time to move on